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Football: Debut of my weekly Pac-12 picks

Ten home games (now just nine), four new coaches, three days, a new TV network and a new stadium built in 1923.

Week 1 in the Pac-12 Conference has a little bit of everything, including six games broadcast over the net Pac-12 Networks. None of it will prevent the home team from ruling the day.

But Oregon State’s Saturday night opener in Corvallis vs. Nicholls State has been postponed because of Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls’ campus in Thibodaux, La., was closed Wednesday and the team has canceled its scheduled Friday travel plans.

Oregon State officials said they are hoping to reschedule the game.

Here are this week’s games and my picks:

THURSDAY

– Northern Colorado at Utah, 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Network): Northern Colorado went 0-11 last season, including a season-opening 22-20 defeat to something called Lindenwood.  Utah 48, Northern Colorado 3.

– UCLA at Rice, 4:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network): Here’s a strange little factoid I dug up — no UCLA coach making his debut on the road has claimed a victory. That dates back to 1919, and includes the likes of Rick Neuheisel, Terry Donahue, Dick Vermeil and Tommy Prothro. Well, Jim Mora Jr. ends the drought. UCLA 27, Rice 17.

– Washington State at BYU, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN): An intriguing Week 1 game. The Cougars aspire to be explosive under new coach Mike Leach, but they were 9-40 the past four years and allowed 40 points or more in 22 of those games. BYU was 10-3 a year ago, but lost 54-10 to Utah. BYU 37, Washington State 28.

– Northern Arizona at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network): The Lumberjacks have alternated playing ASU and Arizona the past 10 years and are 0-10 in those games. The Sun Devils haven’t lost to NAU since 1938, and they’re not going to do it in coach Todd Graham’s debut. ASU 31, Northern Arizona 13.

FRIDAY

– San Jose State at Stanford, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Network): The Spartans are getting better and the Cardinal, sans Andrew Luck, can’t be quite as good. Still . . . Stanford 34, San Jose State 14.

SATURDAY

– Nevada at Cal, noon (Pac-12 Network): Too much riding on this for the Bears to experience a hiccup. They remember the one-sided loss at Reno two years ago, and they will be fired up to please fans in renovated Memorial Stadium, bright and shiny all over again at age 89. Cal 34, Nevada 20.

– Colorado State at Colorado, 1 p.m. (FX): The Buffaloes won only three games last season, but one of them was a 28-14 verdict over a CSU team that has gone 3-9 each of the past three seasons. Until further notice, we assume neither of these teams is appreciably better this season. Colorado 24, CSU 13.

– Hawaii at USC, 4:30 p.m. (Fox): The Trojans have never lost to Hawaii, a fact you probably find stunning. It’s not going to happen to this top-ranked USC team, not at the outset of its first season free of NCAA sanctions. USC 66, Hawaii 7.

– San Diego State at Washington, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network): The Aztecs beat Washington State 42-24 last year, but gone from that 8-5 team are quarterback Ryan Lindley (12,690 passing yards and 90 TDs in four seasons) and running back Ronnie Hillman (3,243 rushing yards and 36 TDs in two seasons). Even UW’s defense will be up to this. Washington 45, San Diego State 17.

– Arkansas State at Oregon, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN): The Ducks may score on every possession, but the Red Wolves aren’t completely helpless on offense. They feature senior quarterback Ryan Aplin, who has passed for 7,416 yards the past two seasons and accounted for 68 touchdowns throwing and running. Oregon 58, Arkansas State 10.

– Toledo at Arizona, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU): The Rich Rodriguez era begans at Tucson with a game that may be tougher than it looks. The Rockets were 9-4 last year and since 2000 have beaten Penn State, Pittsburgh, Colorado and a Michigan team coached by . . . Rich Rod. Toledo boasts two returning quarterbacks who have combined for nearly 6,000 yards and 53 TDs the past two seasons. Arizona 28, Toledo 24.

Jeff Faraudo

  • rollonubears

    JF, are you going to keep track of how you do against the spread each week with these? Might be able to start one of those 900 numbers if you get on a roll.

  • wehofx

    Got my ass kicked last year. But this new batch of Kool Aide has me believing.

    2 black on Cal -11

    Go Bears! Win!…..and Beat the damn spread!